Noemi Smolik

  • Markéta Othová

    The photographs of Markéta Othová, a young artist who lives in Prague, could hardly be described as spectacular; in fact, they consciously oppose the avalanche of images produced by mass media. Always black-and-white, unframed, and about 43 x 63 inches, her images are discreet and unobtrusive, a pointed critique of the relentless deadening that occurs to the inhabitants of our “photographic universe,” as Vilém Flusser warned.

    Othová travels a great deal, taking pictures of the landscapes she sees—meadows, beaches, parks, and streets; people rarely appear in these photographs. When she arrives

  • Tomma Abts/Tony Conrad

    Two concurrent exhibitions at Galerie Daniel Buchholz recently offered an unusual contrast: Large-format paintings by the American artist Tony Conrad were hung in the gallery’s old space, while the new one housed small-format paintings by the London-based German artist Tomma Abts. At first glance, the contrast couldn’t be greater: Conrad’s pictures were created in 1973, Abts’s in 2006; the older paintings are the work of a filmmaker and musician, the new ones, of a dedicated painter; his paintings are enormous, hers are always the same modest format, 18 7⁄8 x 15 inches. Despite these differences,

  • Ralf Ziervogel

    What was this? Limbo, hell, a disco gone out of control, or just a little taunt directed at elaborate installation art? Not necessarily any of these. A torture chamber or purgatory—purgatory as a space of purification? Who can say for sure? After all, what is seen “is never found in what is said,” as Michel Foucault once put it. Still, I have to try to describe this installation, Mamaterial, 2006, by Ralf Ziervogel, a former student of Lothar Baumgarten at Universität der Künste in Berlin and one of the most promising young artists around. The installation (based on the artist’s graduate project)

  • Jiří Kovanda

    In Prague, Jiří Kovanda has long been considered an artist’s artist. His actions and works, and his self-understanding as an artist, have had significant influence over a broad range of younger Czech practitioners. Yet his work has rarely been seen in exhibitions, and some critics have not taken him seriously because of his lack of formal art education. Although he is now fifty-three, this is Kovanda’s first Prague gallery show; indeed, it is the first exhibition to survey the great range of his work. Thus he has titled the show “The First Kovanda Retrospective.”

    Kovanda began his activity as an

  • Margarete Jakschik

    The thirty-five framed photographs in this debut solo exhibition were small and pale, with subjects that don’t reveal anything spectacular—and yet the works of Margarete Jakschik, a Polish-born artist who has lived in Germany since 1980, when she was six years old, fascinate at first sight. Jakschik completed her studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf two years ago under the tutelage of Thomas Ruff, but little connection is made here to his artistic process. Indeed, Jakschik’s photographs are rather the opposite of Ruff’s: subjective, intimate, contingent, passionate—even romantic.

    For years

  • Wawrzyniec Tokarski

    They are not narrative images. Yet Wawrzyniec Tokarski’s paintings tell stories—stories that wrap themselves like masks around the images, creep into the consciousness of the viewer and, above all, don’t soon leave one in peace.

    Tokarski, born in Gdansk but now living in Berlin, focuses his paintings on the typographical element of emblems, logos, and trademarks. In so doing, he circumvents the obvious impact of their visual triviality by forging conceptual connections with contradictory meanings: “Sprite” turns into “Spirit,” or “Levis” into “Evil,” or typographically recognizable traits from

  • Fikret Atay

    When I first saw Fikret Atay’s work almost two years ago at Büro-Friedrich in Berlin, I was immediately impressed. His videos struck me as at once strange and familiar. When I saw them again recently at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, the contrast between familiarity and strangeness was even more pronounced, and I realized that it is precisely this feeling of contradiction that makes these videos—by a Kurdish artist from Turkey—so fascinating and attractive.

    In the video Fast and Best, 2002, teenagers perform Kurdish folk dances. The video shows only their legs clad in jeans and sneakers or boots,

  • Frances Scholz

    From the beginning, Frances Scholz wanted her paintings to rise above the opposition between narrative and abstraction. All along, she has challenged herself with color, line, and pure form—the elements of painting. And yet she didn’t want to stick with just that. The world of her paintings was not meant to renounce all relationship to reality, even though she didn’t want to paint narrative pictures. But how can one carry this ambition off?

    In her most recent paintings, Scholz has discovered a method that allows her to do so. Photos, symbols, and logos from the daily press provide her starting

  • Jiří Georg Dokoupil

    Jiří Georg Dokoupil is a famous painter despite his insistence that he can’t paint. In vain he once tried to paint like a proper Impressionist. After working at it for more than a year, he simply gave up. Even at that time, though, he already had a reputation as a painter. As part of the Cologne-based group Mühlheimer Freiheit—which at the beginning of the ’80s took to the paintbrush in protest against rigid Minimalism and intellectual Conceptualism—he gained international renown. This was at a time when most progressive thinkers were of the opinion that painting was dead.


  • Leiko Ikmura

    How can the invisible be made visible? I’m not thinking of ideas, say, which can be depicted through allegory, as European painting has done for centuries. There is another invisibility, the process of becoming: transition, the unfinished, emptiness—the space that makes an occurrence possible, emptiness as origin and potential. How can this be made visible?

    Leiko Ikemura, an artist born in Japan who has lived for thirty years in Europe—first in Spain and Switzerland and today in Germany—has attempted, through her paintings and sculptures, to make visible the void and the process of becoming. As

  • Kris Martin

    I’m rarely won over to a new artist by a single work, but it happened during the recent art fair in Cologne. When I entered the Sies + Höke booth, my gaze was unexpectedly drawn to a gold-plated steel ball, sitting like an afterthought on the carpeting in the corner of the space. This work, by the young Belgian artist Kris Martin, immediately brought to mind images of golden orbs by James Lee Byars, the beauty of their spherical forms intensified by the brilliance of gold—but something more was going on here. I soon learned that this aesthetically perfect object, 100 years, 2004, purportedly

  • “The Ten Commandments”

    Although “Die Zehn Gebote” (“The Ten Commandments”) was, to my mind, one of the best exhibitions in any German-speaking country in recent years, the reaction to it has been muted at best. Some of the more progressive newspapers neglected to cover it at all, while it was greeted by the leading dailies with mockery, as an undertaking not exactly in step with the expectations of enlightened secular society. That said, there are quite a few intellectuals within this very society who, in the face of recent catastrophes (from Srebrenica to Iraq to the explosion of child prostitution fueled by global